Sean and Michelle weigh in on some recent releases from Seven Seas and VIZ Media.
Black Rose Alice, Vol. 5 | By Setona Mizushiro | VIZ Media – I’m an unabashed shoujo fanatic, but even I must admit that, when it comes to romance, one can usually predict how a story is going to end. Not that Black Rose Alice would exactly fall under the “romance” genre, but it does center around Alice making a choice between suitors and with some surprising arrivals, departures, and developments, the story has taken a fascinating turn and I genuinely have no clue what will happen next! Alice is a mess of guilt, confusion, and indecision and Dimitri continues to be an enigmatic character whose professions of love fail to ring true, but what I liked most was getting to know one of the twins better (Kai) and seeing how his growing connection with Alice spurs jealousy and flashbacks in his brother (Reiji). I’m already sad that volume six will be the last we see for a long while. – Michelle Smith
Citrus, Vol. 3 | By Saburouta | Seven Seas – The thing that makes Citrus still readable is that Yuzu, despite being the cliched flakey girl, is the only one in the entire series with an ounce of sense and maturity. Her worries about her relationship are sensible and founded on the lack of communication she has with Mei, and the lack of communication makes sense give everything that happens here. Sadly, everything that happens includes Matsuri, a former childhood friend of Yuzu’s who spends the entire volume being so petty and evil that I found myself just wanting to put the book down. Her final conversation with Mei is well done, but was it worth all the aggravation that came before it? It’s nice to see more yuri over here, but Citrus remains highly variable. – Sean Gaffney
Evergreen, Vol. 2 | By Yuyiko Takemiya and Akira Caskabe | Seven Seas – Teenagers have chronic misunderstandings. It’s part of being a teenager, and there’s just as much media attention on it in Western media as there is in Japanese animation. There’s also a sense in Evergreen that our two leads have a darker, more dangerous snse of low self-worth than has already been suggested, due to tragic pasts and health concerns. That said, this volume of Evergreen is basically “hope you like miscommunication,” both in its main pairing (if it is one—I’m still not sure about that) and the best friend x playboy side pairing that actually takes up equal time in this volume. I may actually find their relationship more interesting than the main one—not uncommon in many romance manga. – Sean Gaffney
Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, Vol. 7 | By Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki| Viz Media – This is a tournament arc in a shonen manga, and even though we’re talking about food rather than fights the basic setup is the same. Lots of last-minute moves, astonished gasps from the gallery, the judges and announcers frantically talking about what they’ve just seen or eaten, and amazing poses of either a) the chef looking cool and awesome or b) annoying fanservice eating shots. The authors made a good choice saving Megumi for last, though—given we’ve been with her story since the beginning, it’s heartwarming to see her newly developed skills catapult her to the next round here, not sacrificing what makes her cooking best. Good stuff, skip the orgasms faces. – Sean Gaffney
One Piece, Vol. 75 | By Eiichiro Oda | VIZ Media – I always enjoy reading One Piece, but I found this particular volume to be bloody fantastic. Masterful, even. What could’ve easily been pure chaos—the Straw Hats once again splitting up to help free an island’s local populace from a cruel ruler, with battles raging on multiple fronts—is instead easy to follow and riveting, to boot. Going against Doflamingo is the most significant thing Luffy has done yet, for in addition to being a fearsome opponent with a loyal family of officers on his side, defeating him will bring down the wrath of one of the four emperors upon Luffy and his current ally, Trafalgar Law, and that future faceoff will bring Luffy one step closer to his goal. And if all this weren’t enough, we also get great scenes for other members of the crew and meet the worthy successor to Ace’s flame-flame fruit! Go read it! – Michelle Smith
Toriko, Vol. 29 | By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro | Viz Media – As I expected, one of the major mentor characters in this series is brought down here. That, combined with losing his major battle and Komatsu being kidnapped, leads to a mental breakdown for Toriko that takes ages to snap out of (credit to Rin for figuring out what might do it—she’s come a long way from the comedy girl in love with oblivious guy). As for Komatsu, he may be an enemy prisoner, but he’s still able to make the most amazing food he can using only the weak ingredients provided. In a manga filled with superheroes with amazing powers, Komatsu actually ends up seeming like the author’s favorite who can do no wrong. And I’m 100% OK with that. – Sean Gaffney